Family Tech Support on Mac: CD to Audiobook file conversion

I love audiobooks. If you have your own audio book collection on cassette or CD, and want to listen to a track in iTunes or on your iOS device without having to start at the beginning (having just ripped it straight into iTunes), it’s possible. If you have a series of cassettes, you might be better off find them in an alternate format…in any case the conversion is a relatively easy, if not somewhat drawn-out process. Why not just rip the CD’s and go? Here’s why not:
-Audiobooks remember their place. What happens with 30 CD’s and umpteen tracks per CD if you’re driving, gardening or otherwise? You lose your place if you don’t have an audiobook file.
-Audiobook files make it easier for you to sync to devices, and scroll through your music library.
-Audiobook files take up gigabytes less space than full-quality ripped CD files. And so…

First, “rip” your CDs. Not in the literal sense of course, but insert the first CD into your Mac (ignoring other OS users here, sorry folks) and if iTunes is not already importing it (converting to MP3/MP4, etc) then do-so. You might even take this opportunity to change iTunes’ behavior to automatically import and spit out the CD when it’s done. Audio-books are usually comprised of 10-30 CDs, so this is a time-saving step.

Second, once you’ve ripped your CD’s, it’s time to make a playlist. Choose “recently added” from the left side of iTunes and find at least the last CD’s worth of audio. If you want to shift-click the whole stack, great! If you want to make a smart playlist based on some distinguishing factor (album, author, title snippet, etc), then that works too. You want to get all the tracks on all the CDs into this playlist.
Analyze this playlist. Is it more than 13 hours of audio? (see the bottom of iTunes). If so, take note and choose a break-point to make two or more parts. Remember this. Also, make sure the tracks are in correct order, or at least near to it. You can reorder or sort based on clicking columns…

The third step is to download and launch “Join Together”, an excellent, free, applescript application from Doug Adams.
Get it here:

While it’s downloading, go back to iTunes and select the tracks you want to put in your audiobook, or at least the first part. With these tracks selected, move the Join Together application to your Applications folder. Launch it.*
*QuickTime 7 MUST be installed. Leopard users, this is not a problem, but if you have a newer system, Join Together will instruct you on what to do.

Click “get tracks from iTunes” in Join Together. After a few seconds your tracks will pop into the window and you can even drag them to re-order if necessary. If your audio book is destined to be longer than 13 hours, Join Together will give you a warning. (There is a bug in QuickTime that prevents more than 13 hours of continuous playback. In 1995, this wasn’t really a consideration).

With the defaults chosen, go ahead and create your audiobook. Go have lunch or something. You may want to check out the tricks and tips on the Join Together web page, and tweak your settings, but only after your first go around.

Fourth and lastly, you may delete the original unchapterized, full-sized files from iTunes. If you made a playlist (regular, not smart), you should be able to delete them, but make sure not to delete your new book! That file should appear in the “books” section to the left in iTunes.

Good luck! (Questions?